Panasonic's New Entry-Level Android Tablet Starts At $1,350

Toughbook FZ L1 Panasonic September 11 2018

In short: Panasonic on Tuesday announced a new Android tablet with entry-level specs and a focus on the enterprise segment that starts at the equivalent of approximately $1,350. Called the Toughbook FZ-L1, the slate features a rugged case and a barcode scanner meant to cater to individuals working directly with customers. The 4G-enabled model is priced at close to $1,500, though neither is expected to launch in the United States. Instead, the Toughbook FZ-L1 series has so far been confirmed exclusively for Europe, where it will launch this fall. As the aforementioned figures don’t include value-added tax, the more capable model may retail for as much as €1,550 ($1,800) in select European countries.

Background: Panasonic didn’t mention the exact name of the system-on-chip powering the Toughbook FZ-L1 but said it’s a quad-core affair clocked at 1.1GHz, pointing to the Snapdragon 210. The slate sports a 7-inch screen with an undisclosed resolution (presumably 720p), 2GB of RAM, 16GB of flash storage, and a custom implementation of Android 8.1 Oreo. The Japanese company will be releasing the tablet line alongside a number of accessories such as stylus pens, holster belts, and battery packs, though their prices are yet to be disclosed. The exterior of the device is compliant with the MIL-810G military durability standard and is IP67-certified for resistance to dust particles and water. The gadget can withstand drops from up to 1.5 meters and operate on temperatures ranging between -10 and 50 degrees Celsius. Despite the robust design, the Toughbook FZ-L1 weighs only 480g, meaning it’s slightly lighter than Samsung’s newly announced Galaxy Tab S4. Panasonic is planning to release eight models of the Android tablet in total, differing on the type of barcodes they can read, their communications capabilities, and whether or not they support Google Mobile Services. While the company is promising stellar battery life, the exact capacity of the non-removable cell found inside the Toughbook FZ-L1 has yet to be disclosed.

The impact: Though the Toughbook FZ-L1 is unlikely to be a best-seller relative to consumer-focused products, the fact that Android enterprise tablets are already a niche category even when not accounting for customers requiring rugged cases and barcode scanners means Panasonic can get away with charging as much as $1,800 for what’s effectively an entry-level device with a suite of management apps and improved durability. The company has been using the same product strategy for some time now, so its continuation implies an adequate number of enterprises are still buying its products regardless of their price.